17 Rikers officers face discipline for death of transgender woman

File photo: UPI/Sakhorn

June 27 (UPI) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced 17 uniformed jail staffers at Rikers Island will face disciplinary action for the death of a transgender woman there last year.

He said the Department of Correction staff members will face charges for the death of Layleen Polanco, 27. Three officers were suspended without pay.

Polanco died in June 2019 after guards put her in solitary confinement against doctor’s advice. She had a history of epileptic seizures, and had one while in solitary confinement.

She was found dead in her cell June 7, 2019, and an autopsy revealed she died from a seizure.

“The death of Layleen Polanco was an incredibly painful moment for our city,” de Blasio said Friday. “What happened to Layleen was absolutely unacceptable and it is critical that there is accountability.”

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark declined to file criminal charges in the case on June 5, saying that investigators were unable to prove officers committed any crime that led to Polanco’s death.

“We are committed to ensuring that all of our facilities are safe and humane. Even one death in our custody is one too many and this swift and fair determination on internal discipline makes clear that the safety and well-being of people in our custody remains our top priority,” New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann said.

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